PRAYING SHAPES BELIEVING
A Meditation for You
We are in Lent, traditionally a time of self examination and fasting. Many take on a discipline of doing without during Lent. Some take on additional service. With only minor clarifications, the pandemic has imposed a Lenten experience on all of us. We have been doing without for a long season. 

Let us find a way to use this time not to get lost in the difficulty of the journey but to become enlivened in the hope of the destination! In just this fashion, the Psalms of Ascent came to have their being! Words of the songs, or Psalms from 120-134, comforted our faithful forbears when they returned from exile to their beloved home of Jerusalem, up to Mount Zion. 

The Psalms of Ascent have many names: Gradual Psalms, Songs of Degrees, Songs of Steps, Songs for Going Up to Worship or Pilgrim Songs. We have been considering the Psalms of Ascent as individual poems which were later collected together and given the title linking them to pilgrimage after the Babylonian captivity. But scholars have various explanations for when and where these Psalms were sung. 

Some believe that the psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals . Others think they were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem. One view says the Levites first sang the Songs at the dedication of Solomon's temple during the night of the fifteenth of Tishri 959 BC. Another study suggests that they were composed for a celebration after Nehemiah's rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls in 445 BC.

In which scenario would you like to see yourself? Would you like to be attending a festival or going to a concert? Ministering at the temple or volunteering at the clinic? Going to a dedication, such as the new town hall in Ashland? Celebrating completion of a project, like the railroad updates or a house in the Habitat for Humanity neighborhood? Or just reading poetry—Mary Oliver, Amanda Gordon or that of a creative friend? 

Wearing whatever scenario suits you, consider Psalm 126. Pray the Psalm as if your fortunes are being restored. And/or be transported back to the origin of the Shir ha ma’alot, the Song of Ascent, and our faith through this audio/visual performance in Hebrew with subtitles.
A Harvest of Joy

Psalm 126
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
Narrative © 2021 Stephanie Shareck Werner
Mark Lenten Conversations
We are thrilled to announce a thoughtful and creative way to read through the gospel of Mark in the Lenten season together. Each week we will be posting a different conversation between Rock+, Harrison and a member of our Parish. They read three chapters and discuss it as Spirit leads them. We are reading through the CEB (Common English Bible) Study Bible. Please come pick up your own copy on the table in the Memorial Garden. They are free for the taking.

We hope you will join us for Session 3 as we move into Mark chapters 7-9 with Gay Gibson, Father Rock and Harrison. The link to watch is HERE on YouTube. (In case you missed the weeks with Neale Smith or the Leggotts - they there too!)

If you would prefer to listen as a podcast, click HERE.
Join us Sunday
Sunday Morning

Please join us online Sunday for a Spiritual Eucharist at 10am. Let us be together in Spirit! The link to watch and get the bulletin are in the schedule below.
Staying Connected
Friday, March 12, 2021
  • 12pm- Noonday Prayer (online)
  • 5pm- Facebook Live for kids
  • Link to join in

Sunday, March 14, 2021
  • 9am- Children's Sunday School (online)
  • Link to join
  • 10am- Morning Prayer Worship (online)
  • Link to watch service
  • Link for bulletin

Monday, March 15, 2021
  • 10:30am- Grief Group (online)
  • Link to join
  • 12pm- Noonday prayers (online)

Join us daily for Noonday Prayer online here. You can follow along with the service on page 103 of the Book of Common Prayer or visit BCPonline.org (Click on "Daily Office" and then "An Order of Service at Noonday")

If you can't join us live-time, no worries. All of these services can be viewed at your convenience afterward on Facebook. All our Sunday morning and Contemplative services will be posted on our YouTube Channel, "St. James the Less Ashland VA." You can access that here.
Helpful Links
St. James the Less
125 Beverly Rd. | Ashland VA 23005 | (804) 798.6336